Norwich City Drive Revenue & Engagement Through Digital Eco-System
Whilst the 19/20 season may not have gone as desired on the field, Norwich City Football Club remain bold and ambitious.
A self-funded club, their strategic goals include developing a culture of continuous improvement and pertinently for their digital ambition, building a ‘future-ready’ club infrastructure.
Over the prior 12-months, the club has prioritised growing their technology and digital understanding and investment. Like many others, the buzzwords around this space have been heard, but continue to be in an analogue fashion due to lacking in skills and confidence to take the next step.
As Ben Kensell, Chief Operating Officer at the club explains, that had to change. “As a club, we recognised that we’d slipped behind,” he said.
“Our processes were outdated, our platforms legacy and our thinking siloed. We aren’t the first club, nor will we be the last, to fall into that trap. Technology is moving so fast that you take your eye off the ball for a moment and you are behind the curve.
“The world has become increasingly digital and at a pace, and our ambition is to go from behind the curve to best in class by virtue of the transformation project that we are currently embarking on.”
A transformation it will be. Digital will form the backbone of the next iteration of fan experience and diversification of revenue streams. The extended project will comprise of an exit from the EFL Digital deal, allowing Norwich City to take control of their own streaming product; a new mobile app, website, and data solution for an integrated single customer view, a new ticketing platform, and enhanced business intelligence capabilities for internal stakeholders, all underpinned by enterprise connectivity at Carrow Road.
This is hugely exciting to Ben and the wider club management team. “What makes this project unique in our view is that we’ll have wiped the slate clean,” he continued.
“The principle we had from the outset was that we could have no one area letting down the vision, which is typical of these projects. You might have multiple vendor contracts which are out of sync for example, meaning you can only do 70% of the job and our mindset is that your fan experience is only as strong as your weakest link.
“This makes it a significant undertaking but ultimately drives the best practice outcomes and will place us at the forefront of digital capabilities which is a long way from where we are currently”
Radical change such as this often fails through the inexperience in these areas for internal staff members. As a club, Norwich are well aware that when technology doesn’t talk, when platforms don’t integrate and when data ends up disparate, the outcomes are poor and that expertise were needed to navigate through what can feel a daunting minefield.
For this reason, Norwich City appointed PTI Digital in early 2019 to help them roadmap the journey, enhance the business with skills, experience, and wide-ranging competencies, bringing the vision to reality. Delivering fractional expertise to the Club across technology, digital and commercial services, PTI have worked closely as an extension of the Club staff to drive the ambitions forward.
“To build a ‘future-ready’ infrastructure you need to have the right team,” said Kensell, “Part of the reason we had fallen behind was firstly investment, but equally skill set and experience in the digital space who could understand the end-to-end journey.
“Having looked to the market, PTI Digital were a clear stand out in this space because they could do just that – help us to understand the technology requirements such as connectivity, and the plumbing to get the foundations right, before building out a data and digital strategy tailored to our ambitions and on to assisting in delivering the commercial strategy to justify the investment.”
The investment is significant – well over seven figures collectively – proving the importance the club place on the project, and their commitment to fans in providing them with the very best experience.
With the PTI designed future-state architecture approved by the club’s management team, a four month RFP process is now nearing its conclusion to appoint the vendors and bring the journey to life in time for the start of the 21/22 season. A bold commitment to themselves as a business and their fans will soon start to live and breathe.
It’s something Ben feels his team should be immensely proud of, particularly with their cultural buy in to the project and what it can mean for the future of the club.
He continued: “It is as much a mindset change, a cultural change, as it is a platform and digital led change. Yes, we will be redeveloping platforms from the ground up, but of equal if not greater importance is the level of collaboration and buy in across the business.
“We live in a digital ready world, where fans are using second screens over 60% of the time, either at the ground or at home whilst consuming sport.
“My challenge to our staff is to adapt to this and address that audience. It could be as simple as providing real-time transport information to help fans get home or as complex as personalised marketing based on 15 data points to provide a truly individual experience or anything in-between.
“We are wanting to be ahead of the curve in this space and we now have everything in place to be able to deliver it.”
There is no doubt that the data-driven, digitally enabled world has had its impact on sport and fan engagement. No more so than in 2020 where the analogue business world at venues was nullified by COVID.
With an immediate return to the Premier League in focus and a truly connected digital eco-system to come, both Norwich City as a club and their supporters can look forward with optimism to a time at which the Canary chirps proudly once more.